Dear Mexican: Some time back, you discussed the Chivas soccer team. This reminded me of my time in San Francisco’s Mission District, when the traficantes would whisper, “Chiva...chiva” as I walked down 16th Street. When I asked someone what it meant, they said, “Stuff.” Now it’s baby goats? I know slang etymology is often hard to pin down, but why is heroin referred to as chiva?
My Only Animal Is a Chihuahua
Dear Gabacho: Ask my pal Sam Quinones, the greatest-ever reporter on Mexican immigration to the U.S. and author of the magnificent new book Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. His response: “Oooh, estimado, that’s no goat they’re offering. That’s black-tar heroin. Chivas are indeed a soccer team, and chiva means goat, the meat that goes into the delicious birria and barbacoa that the folks from Jalisco and Michoacán make so well. But on the street, it’s slang for that sticky, semi-processed kind of heroin that looks like rat crap and tends to block your arteries. You want to stay away from the chiva those heavy breathers are offering. They’re supplied by our traficante friends from northwest Mexico, whom we have to thank for the decapitations and wanton massacres of late. Stick with the barbacoa. It’ll just get your fingers messy.”
Dear Mexican: Perhaps immigrants need a public-relations boost. Instead of being portrayed as parasitic foreigners who siphon off taxpayer money, shouldn’t someone point out that they believe in America and want to be part of a free nation built on American principles? This could go a long way toward integrating the immigrant population and reducing resentment, ¿sí?
Dear Gabacho: While I’m sure you’re asking this from your corazón, it is the exact sentiment expressed by Know Nothings like Donald Trump — you know, his whole “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best” bullshit. Fuck it: Let’s celebrate all the “bad” Mexicans who come into this country without papers — people like my dad, who came here with a fourth-grade education and is the proud papi of four college graduates, three with master’s degrees. Let us praise the people savvy enough to not only escape la migra, but also to make a life for themselves in the U.S. outside immigration law. The supposed losers of society are the ones who made this nation, from former slaves to Jewish refugees to the Yellow Menace and, yes, Mexicans. Besides, when we do highlight the absolute best immigrants we offer — undocumented college students — Know Nothings like Trump just dismiss them as illegals.
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